Teaching History With A Few Squiggles
On Nov 17, 2011
Adv. S Jithesh, who gained popularity through his ‘Super Speedy Cartooning’, conducted his on the spot cartoon stage show ‘Varayarangu’, in an event organized by Bharat Bhavan, at the Cotton Hill School on November 14, in association with Children’s Day.
Through this show he sketched out for an eager audience, the Indian history, Nehru, Manmohan Sigh, Rabindranath Tagore, VS Achuthanandan, Mahatma Gandhi, film stars, sports personalities and singers. While this live event entertained children, it also proved to be an interesting way of learning the nation’s history. Jithesh had earlier conducted shows in various schools on November 1 in association with Kerala Piravi.
The major crowd puller in Jithesh’s shows is the fact that he sketches caricatures of more than fifty celebrities in five minutes. He has drawn cover illustrations and caricatures for several Malayalam books too including Kamala Das’ collection of short stories ‘Madhavikkuttiyue Unmakathakal’.
Yentha brings to you a candid chat with this cartoonist about his creations and his aim.
How would you define your ‘brand new” infotainment art form VARAYARANGU...?
We have heard about ‘Kaviyarangu’. Here it’s ‘Varayarangu’...! I ventured to experiment with the art of caricaturing as a ‘Stage Art’. It is a blending of poetry and anecdotes and socio-political satire with high speed drawing. I’m trying to explore the performing level dimensions and possibilities of ‘Fine Art’ and ‘Art of Cartooning’.
About your stage shows in Trivandrum?
In Trivandrum I perform ‘Varayarangu’ based on Kerala history and culture. Sathish Babu Payyannur (Secretary, Bharath Bhavan ) is the chief co-ordinator of my Trivandrum programmes. Today, the new generation has no interest in learning history or our great past. Everyone tries to get a Medical or Engineering seat by hook or crook. We have no time to pay homage to or commemorate our freedom fighters and great martyrs. Suppose you were to ask a cyber-era kid about the importance of Nov 1st. You will probably get this answer: “November 1st...Oh...It’s the birthday of beauty queen Aiswarya Rai! She was born on 1973 Nov 1st at Mangalapuram.” But the same chap will keep mum if asked about Bhagath Singh or Rajguru. This is the attitude of the new generation. At the same time, these kids are very crazy about cartoons. I would like to impart knowledge about our history and culture through the young generation’s favorite medium-‘Cartoons’. I do sprinkle the pepper and salt of funny comments and interesting jokes to make my show more delicious.
When did you start drawing and who was your first guru in this field?
The history of this art form ‘Varayarangu’ starts from June 22, 2008. As a tribute to my departed Chithrakala Guru Artist VS Vallyathan, I drew 50 celebrity faces within five minutes at a commemorative meeting of Vallyathan conducted at Pandalam on that day. Noted persons like sculptor Kanayi Kunjiraman and Former Minister Pandalam Sudhakaran were there to witness this event.
About your Super Speedy Drawing and the hard work you put into it?
I would like to entitle my style of drawing as Super Speedy Drawing. As you know, ‘Speed Drawing’ is very much in vogue among artists in western countries. Usually they take two-three minutes to sketch a caricature. I do it within seconds. I strive hard to accelerate the pace of drawing so as to create a magical effect while staging this Fine Art as a Performing Art. Usually I draw about 50 celebrity caricatures with an accompanying satirical commentary in 5 minutes.
How did you come into this field?
From my early childhood, I had a great inclination towards drawing caricatures. The influence of Cartoonist Yesudasan on me was very deep at that time. I still remember the time I copied the caricature of EMS drawn by Yesudasan when I was 3 or 4 years old. Now he is a great promoter of my Varayarangu.
In your view, what is the importance of cartoons and caricatures in the society?
These are two great mediums that satirize and criticize in order to transform the society very effectively. The demarcation between the two is too narrow and delicate. The former is the satirical illustration of an idea, while the latter is of a person or a thing. I’m practicing an ‘Art of Laughter Therapy’ by combining two forms of fine art.
How do you balance two professions at a time, I mean being an advocate and a caricaturist?
I would like to fight against all kinds of evils prevailing in the society with pen, brush, tongue, heart and thought..! These two professions are like two different weapons to fight for the same cause.
About CHIRICHEPPU cartoon monthly?
I worked as the Editor-in-Chief of that cartoon monthly for a decade. It gave me a big break in my career. But financially it was a big burden since I was also its publisher. As Chaplin said “I always like walking in the rain so no one can see me crying.” At that time my story was of no difference. Fortunately I overcame my entire financial crisis from the remuneration received from these hundreds of cartoon stage shows. There have been many occasions which I had been paid thousands of rupees per minute for my show.
What is the specialty of your work and what is the change you expect in this field?
I belong to the genre of the odd and rare species of ‘Performing Cartoonists’. Perhaps I may be the first one who experimented with and explored the performance dimensions of fine art as a perfect stage art in my journey through 2000 stages.
I would like to create a new sensibility in the medium of cartooning. While making a stage show of this art I’m transforming an art form which we have been viewing in art galleries or in the print media since its origin.
Team Yentha wishes all success to Adv. S Jithesh in his professional and creative path.